Cracking Down on Pump and Runs

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

March 30, 2006

With higher and higher prices at the pumps, it’s becoming more attractive for people to steal gas instead of pay for it. Now a warning tonight - watch out police are after these pump-and-run pirates

Charlottesville police said the gas station on Preston Avenue has been hardest hit. Thursday alone, three people filled up and took off without paying. Now police are fueled and they'll be prosecuting to the full extent.

Take a look at this guy. He hits this station not once, not twice but four times in the last month.

With dozens of drive offs this year this Shell station says enough is enough.

“We had them out on our counter. Pictures of the people who stole gas. We block out their license plate and put them up on the counter [and say] ‘do you know this person?’ ‘Hey I know them,’” said store supervisor Beverley Klore.

Fueled by the brazenness, police say they're after these pump and run pirates.

"[This is] fair warning here that this is going to be fairly open season for people who are committing these crimes,” said Charlottesville police Lt. Gary Pleasants.

Stealing gas can land you in jail for 12 months and get your license taken away for 30 days.

”With video...we can see exactly who was driving the car and who didn't pay for gas,” said Pleasants.

Station surveillance cameras capture not only the driver but their license plate, leading police right to a suspect.

”Let's see if we can track down one of our offenders now,” said Pleasants, who took one reporter on a hunt for the suspects caught on camera. After knocking on doors, Pleasants found one suspect at home. The man said it was all an accident. He said he'd pay the station within 20 minutes. He never showed up.

Police know where he and many other suspects live and will track them down.

As for the Shell station they could protect themselves by making customers pay before pumping. But they say they wouldn't do that to their customers.

Charlottesville had 100 gas and dashes last year. So far this year,
there's already been 30.

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